By Leo Azambuja

Photo by Joe Olivas 1

Holding white feather rattles, ‘uli’uli, dancers from Halau Na Pua Mai Ka Lani chant their ‘oli, Na Ka Moku Kia Kahi Kealoha, in the wahine group category in 2013.

Three decades after three visionary Hawaiians held a historic concert in Lihu‘e, the fruits of their actions continue to perpetuate local culture and arts.

The Kaua‘i Mokihana Festival will be held from Sept. 21 to 27, bringing a full week of activities which include Hawaiian culture, music, hula competition, craft fair and workshops at various locations around the island.

“Thirty years ago, it started as a one-day event, which was the Kaua‘i Composers’ Contest,” said event organizer Maka Herrod, adding that now, the festival has grown to several activities over the course of seven days.

“Right now we want to present more of an educational piece to the community, versus an entertainment,” he said.

In 1984, James ‘Ekolu Panui, Larry Keli‘i Duhaylongsod and Nathan Liberato Kahikolu Kahapea Kalama, from the musical group Malie, held the first Kaua‘i Composers’ Contest and Concert. All they had was $300 from a grant from the Hasegawa Komuten Relations.

That first concert held at Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihue attracted less than 50 people, enough to generate a $5 profit. But it set the foundation for the multi-decade cultural festival.

Though Panui and Duhaylongsod are now gone, their legacy lives on through the Kaua‘i Mokihana Festival organized each year by the Malie Foundation.

Herrod said the event is for everybody who wants to enjoy a family-oriented festival. Many returning guests, he said, are visitors who plan their vacation to coincide with the festival.

Elijah Makana Pakele, of Halau Hi’iakainamakalehua performs E Ho’i Na Wai in the Solo Opio Kane category in 2013.

Elijah Makana Pakele, of Halau Hi’iakainamakalehua performs E Ho’i Na Wai in the Solo Opio Kane category in 2013.

This year’s festival will open Sept. 21 at 10 a.m. at the historic Kapa‘a First Hawaiian Church, founded by Queen Deborah Kapule in 1879. There’s no admission fee, and there will music, hula and refreshments.

On Sept. 22, Waimea Theater will be the stage for the Kaua‘i Composers’ Contest and Concert at 7 p.m. Admission is $20 for adults and $5 for keiki.

The Children/Youth Music Competition will be held Sept. 23 at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall at 9 a.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for keiki.

On Sept. 23, from 6 to 9 p.m., the Under the Palms at Wailua event at Aston Aloha Beach Hotel will provide an evening of hula, music, arts and crafts. Admission is $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

The Kaua‘i Museum will host the Lau Niu, a Hawaiian cultural workshop on coconut frond weaving on Sept. 24, from 5 to 7 p.m. This event is free, but space is limited to 40 participants. Donations are welcome.

A three-day hula competition will be held at Kaua‘i Beach Resort in Lihu‘e, from Sept. 25 to 27, with different schedules and focus each day. Daily admission is $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

This will be the Year of the No Loea O Na Mea Hana Lima (master crafters), and a craft fair featuring cultural products will run parallel to the three-day hula competition at KBR.

A Mokihana Pass is available for $75, and it is transferable. Tickets are available at or at Vicky’s Fabric and Kapa‘a Music and Sound in Kapa‘a, and at Kaua‘i Beach Resort.